The Power of Face to Face CommunicationMay 13, 2013 | By Wayne O'Neill
In a world that now sends us thousands of messages a day, how do you stand out in the crowd? How do you capture the attention of your potential client and become “the one” they choose to do business with? It is a challenge to be heard above the noise of all these competing messages.
As much as I love new technology that helps me engage collaboratively, keeps me on the cutting edge of industry issues and client intelligence, and connects me to more people in less time, there is nothing as powerful as face to face communication. I recently facilitated an impactful meeting between a client and one of their potential clients. More seeds of possibilities and breakthrough opportunities gave birth during that 20 minute face to face meeting than all the previous digital communications combined. No technology replaces real conversations, in real time, in real rooms like a face to face meeting. Simply put, face to face communication is still key to establishing sustainable relationships with executive decision makers to produce results.
The impact of meeting in person that I have experienced personally has also been studied by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. In a global study of 2,211 Harvard Business Review subscribers, 95 percent of the respondents viewed in-person meetings as a key to success in building long-term relationships.
Here are some tips to cut through the clutter and be effective in face to face meetings with executives:
1. Be Prepared. Plan carefully and craft your message so it is concise, relevant to the specific potential client and clearly states the impact that your value proposition offers. We coach our clients so they are well prepared before entering that critical initial meeting. If you were scheduled for a 20 minute meeting, but at the last minute find out that you only get 3 minutes to talk with a key decision maker regarding your product or service, what would you say?
2. Sell Yourself. Come in confident. Exude an aura that communicates: “I am authentic. You can trust me.” Workplace body language expert, Carol Kinsey Goman, suggests in Forbes magazine that to insure a positive first impression, adjust your attitude and strike a power pose for two minutes before entering the meeting room to feel more confident and competent.
3. Assess the Mood of the Day. Keep your antenna up. Your intuitive side needs to sense where the executive is at on that specific day. What kind of mood is the executive in…stressed, light-hearted, focused? Who among the executive’s team seems to be the influencer? If possible, choose a seat where you have good eye contact with the executive. Pay attention to nonverbal cues. Eye contact transmits energy, indicates openness and interest. According to Carol Kinsey Goman in Forbes, “Research shows it takes an average of three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level of rapport that you can get with a single handshake.” So make sure your body language reflects confidence, openness and authenticity.
4. Develop a Rapport. Build a connection. Discover common ground and common pathways from life experiences that put you in a position to relate to each other in a way that can be mutually enjoyable and authentic.
5. Listen and Understand What Your Client Needs. Throughout the meeting, you are trying to shape a proposal that meets their needs effectively with great impact. Explore, ask questions, keep asking more questions and get to the heart of what matters. After uncovering what really matters, tell the story of how your product or service adds value and impact for the greater good of your client. Your conversation will then be memorable and mutually beneficial.
6. Follow Up in Personal Ways to Keep the Connection. Pick up the phone and connect with the executive. Sometimes a phone call will accomplish more in a few minutes than a multitude of emails.
For more tips on how to connect and engage in impactful ways with senior executives, read our blogs, such as: “I Confess…I’m a SuperConnector (But, You Can Be Too!)” and “What Senior Executives Wish You Knew”